Another recipe for the budget cooking series. Braised chicken in tomato sauce with saffron potatoes. I think it qualifies. Skip the saffron which can be a bit pricey specially if getting the good stuff. There’s even an ISO standard for it…that’s just crazy, although this spice is so unique and amazing I shouldn’t be this surprised. Saffron and Pimenton (Sweet paprika) define Spain’s flavour. I have a few chicken recipes on the blog but this one for some reason never made it in until now. This is something I used to cook when I was in high school and during my college years. It’s that easy and almost impossible to mess up. Sometimes I’d cook it with spaghetti and skip the potatoes (yep, heaven).
Some thoughts on what meat to use.
For this recipe I used chicken thighs for simplification and flavour. I could have used the whole chicken, but cooking chicken breasts require more control and the flavour doesn’t really shine as much as the flavour in darker and fattier thigh/leg meat does, at least in my opinion. Drumsticks also work really well here as do the wings, so try it if you want. Anyways, enough yapping, let’s get to it!
Ingredients (4 servings):
4-6 big chicken thighs. Skin on (A MUST, sorry dieters)
10 small creamer potatoes. Skin on
1 yellow onion, finely chopped.
1 Tbsp garlic. Minced
1 red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 Thyme sprigs
A few basil leaves or parsley ones
Couple of pinches of saffron strands
1 Tbsp Sweet paprika (pimenton)
1 Cup of White wine
1 1/2 Chicken bullion cubes. Or 6 cups of chicken stock reduced to about a cup and a half.
Salt and Pepper to Taste.
Sriracha sauce to taste.
The chicken and the secret of flavor.
So… wish I had known this all along during my high school and college years. Browning chicken skin is key (I know, I wasn’t really paying much attention then, but it seems so obvious now right?!). And it doesn’t take much to get it right. Definitely patience and a hot skillet. So start there. Get some olive oil or vegetable oil on a skillet and heat it to medium high. Place the thighs skin side down and allow to brown for as long as needed. Might take a while. Chicken skin is really resilient. Don’t move the meat, not stirring, no nothing, just let them be for a good 10 mins, take a quick peak and continue to brown until golden and crispy. Of course, if you smell anything burning…no need to wait those 10 mins. Just get on the phone and order pizza.
Once the skins are golden brown its time for the peppers and onion to go in. You can now turn the chicken thighs over and lower the heat to medium. Sauté for another 5 mins. Add the tomato paste. Add the garlic. Add the wine and the thyme sprigs. Add the paprika. Add the chicken bullion and about a cup of water or the reduced stock. I suggest reducing the stock ahead of time because otherwise it would take forever to reduce 6 cups while braising the chicken, and your chicken thighs will be well.. way way overcooked or you will end up with chicken soup which isn’t a bad proposition. Braise in the cooking liquid for about 10 mins. Don’t cover the pot. You can always add water if the cooking liquid becomes too thick. Remove the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper if needed. A splash of Sriracha sauce will take this thing to the next level. Braising anything is a relaxing exercise. Let it bubble away and set a timer, drink some wine, browse some web. Before you know it… done.
Place them in a plastic container, add about 2 tsp of salt, the saffron strands and enough water to cover the potatoes. Cover with a loose lid. Microwave for 20 mins. You don’t have to use a microwave. You can cook them in the same pot with the chicken, or cook them on the stove in a separate pot. I like to use the microwave because my kitchen is tiny and freeing up a burner is always nice. Microwaves are pretty good at heating water. That’s basically what they’re designed to do and that’s exactly what potatoes need. Cook until tender. Don’t discard the water. Add that to the chicken pot, make sure it isn’t more than 1/3 of a cup. Most of it will evaporate in the microwave. If not, microwave or cooked until the liquid is 1/3 of a cup.
Note on salt.
It’s always good to check for saltiness during the cooking process and when cooking chicken, check for saltiness ONLY after the chicken meat is cooked, but with that said, keep in mind that there are a few sources of salt in this recipe and hard for me to write down proper amounts without knowing the exact ingredients you’d be using. The saffron water has salt in it. The chicken stock might have salt in it. Chicken bullion definitely has salt in it, at least the one I use. Sriracha sauce has salt in it. So, adjust as you go and you should be perfectly fine. Have fun! Gotta go.